Out Of The Box Brownies: Magical brownie recipes that start with a box

Red Velvet Brownies – with homemade frosting

April 06, 2012 By: Denise Leo, Global Brownie Ambassador Category: Chilled, Cream Cheese, Decadent, Holiday, Nut-Free, Off the Beaten Path

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Red Velvet Cake is a favorite in my household, almost as much as brownies. Red Velvet Cake is the dessert my mother always made for special occasions — especially birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Independence Day, or Christmas. And it’s the dessert that, when served, made any occasion special. It’s rich, dense, sweet, buttery, and very, very pretty! So its namesake brownie had to be equally special. Here’s my simplified, “box mix” approach to this lovely recipe.

Drink it in with your eyeballs, my friends. The Red Velvet Brownie is a visual stunner!


  • 1 and 1/2 cups milk (any percent is fine)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 box red velvet cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 and 1/2 cups butter (do *NOT* use margarine, as it will not fluff up properly)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla


Put milk and flour into a microwave-safe dish and mix completely. (I like to use a fork, but that’s just me.)

Do this:

  • Microwave for 60 seconds on 20% power; remove from oven and stir.
  • Repeat.
  • Repeat.
  • Repeat.

(Use 20% power, not 100%. You want to avoid scalding your milk.)

At this point, you’ll have cooked your mixture for a total of 4 minutes and you’re ALMOST done. Your goal is a smooth, thick consistency, like a gravy you might pour over biscuits. It should take a total of about 6 to 10 minutes of cooking time — but you don’t want to cook it any longer than you have to.

So now, do this, but ONLY until it gets thick:

  • Microwave for 30 seconds on 20% power.
  • Repeat.
  • Repeat.
  • Repeat.

Here's a rule of thumb to see if your goo is properly thick. Scoop up some goo with your fork; if it clings to the fork for a second before running through the tines, you're done cooking!

Do not overcook. After about 6 minutes total, you should be done. Stir well until smooth. Cover and set aside, so it can cool completely before step 2 of frosting, later.

Adding plastic wrap on top of your cooked flour/milk mixture will keep it from making a tough skin as it cools.


In a large bowl, add cream cheese and egg. With electric mixer, beat until smooth, about 1 minute.

Add cake mix, water, and oil. Mix on slow speed until blended, then on medium for 2 minutes.

Oh, pretty. Pretty, pretty, pretty. (Sigh.)

Pour into a greased 9×13 pan.

Keep yer dang fingers outta the batter!

Bake at 350 F for about 20-25 minutes or until a center-placed toothpick comes out crumbly but nearly clean.

One of the keys to success is to avoid overbaking. Use a toothpick test for the last few minutes of baking and remove as soon as it's done.


Before this next step, check the temperature of your “cooked flour/milk” mixture. If it is **completely cooled to room temperature**, you may proceed. (Also, if you chose to cool your flour/milk in the refrigerator, let it return to room temperature before moving forward.)

Allow your butter to soften outside of the refrigerator for about 5 or 10 minutes. With an electric mixer on medium-high, beat sugar, butter, and vanilla together in a large bowl until it turns snowy white, about 3 minutes. Next, add the flour mixture.

Add your cooked and cooled flour/milk mixture.

Start the mixer slowly. Don’t be afraid that your frosting will look entirely HIDEOUS at this stage. Consider it a baby swan that will soon grow into an elegant, angelic creature.

I've always felt that this "ugly duckling" stage looks a little like half-cooked scrambled eggs. Eww.

Mix on highest speed until you notice a beautiful, magical change in texture–causing it to look and act like real whipped cream–about 2-3 minutes.

Oh. Yes. Fluffy, sparkly, and TOTALLY HOMEMADE! This just might ruin you for tub frosting for the rest of your life. Sorry 'bout that.

Only after your brownies are completely cooled should you add the frosting. Pile it on. Make big fluffy swirls. Remember, this will spread a lot differently than pre-made “tub” frosting. That’s. Cuz. It’s. Homemade.

This recipe will give you the luxury of a big ol’ thick layer. Oh my goo’ness–I’m getting lightheaded as I type this.

With this frosting, you must refrigerate this dessert. A small price to pay for the absolute decadence of it all. Serve your Red Velvet Brownies while wearing red lipstick and a mischievous smile.

Much easier than making a 2-layer cake: It's the Red Velvet Brownie!

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